Love the concept and execution behind this game so far.
There are a couple thoughts I have after playing the game. Right now, the game seems to play like a more complicated version of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Certain strategies trump other strategies when building a fleet. Each stage or challenge often feels like trying to identify the enemy strategy and then building a fleet that exploits its weakness.
This tends to lead to really boring fleets. Often they are made of only 1 or 2 types of ships specifically designed to defeat the enemy. It could be a fighter swarm, a frigate swarm with short range weapons, lots of long range cruisers, etc… There is little incentive to build a “balanced” fleet, as they are often weaker.
Even when designing ships, the incentive is to specialize in a specific type of weapon, or shields, or armor, or speed. This makes ship design less interesting, as you tend to focus on specific factors only. Slow cruisers often don’t matter, so engine choice is a non-factor. Armor on fighters is often less useful then speed, so more engines are added instead.
Last, there is no attachment to a fleet, each battle you tend to discard the old fleet; your previous decisions in the game never matter in the next mission. There is no cost to losing a ship, or choosing a specific design.
A couple suggestions:
Make ‘well-rounded” designs more viable. Both for individual ships, and in fleet composition.
There is already a concept of diminishing returns when you have multiple shields or repair units. That idea could be carried into weapons and armor. There are enough choices in weaponry that long-range, or short range vessels would still be easy to make, but it wouldn’t all be the same.
It would be interesting if the campaign was about building up a fleet that you added to or replaced ships in, as the game went on. This would make it much more difficult to build a specialized fleet for each circumstance. Ships or crews could gain experience. Allowing ship captains to grow or specialize would also be cool. Right now the crew and pilot resources are completely generic. Specialized crews could provide more choices when building a fleet. And provide consequences when they were lost in a battle. At the very least being able to make certain ships experienced or veteran so they performed better.